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Neon Trees lose luster: Pop Pyschology album review

After 2012 breakout album, Pop Psychology fails to meet expectations

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The Spectrum

Album: Pop Psychology

Artist: Neon Trees

Label: Mercury, Island Def Jam

Release Date: April 22, 2014

Grade: C+

Neon lights burn bright when you first plug them in. But after time, the buzzing slows, and their luster eventually fades.

Pop Psychology proves the Neon Trees are no different.

The new album has some catchy tunes, but the simplicity of each hook doesn't showcase the band's true talents and the pace of the album suffers, losing the listener's attention after a few songs.

It takes a few tracks to get the idea of the album, but once you reach "Sleeping With A Friend" - the third track - it becomes apparent what frontman Tyler Glenn was going for: angst and humor.

With a reverbed, mildly distorted guitar, the song gives a catchy hook that is easy to listen to and has a nice balance that doesn't overpower Glenn's voice.

There is that same bubble-gum pop feel with the fuzzy '60s distortion that was apparent in the band's 2012 album Picture Show in tracks like "Everybody Talks" and "Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night)." Complemented by an apparent synthesizer, that album's tracks grab the listener's interest in a manner similar to the band's debut album, Habits.

The new album gives off a "Saved by the Bell,"early '90s feel - a beachy theme that makes you want to let everything go and not think about the consequences.

"Sleeping With A Friend" is the album's ballad track. It forces the listener to become involved.

Following that ballad, "Teenager In Love" boasts an idea that was clearly well thought out. The lyrics tell a story and so does the music. Each riff is broken up perfectly and you can hear a different sound through the verses, with a chorus that you can't wait to come back around.

But just when you get hooked, the pace of the album drops off and becomes swallowed up by a digital sound that is over-modulated, boring the listener to the point that the only tracks that would be included on mixtapes would be the third and fourth songs.

Any listener seeking brilliance in the rest of the album would find him or herself at a loss.

It seemed as though Glenn was trying to get his message across in his lyrics more than the band as a whole was focused on the music itself. And because of this disconnect, the album suffers.

The lack of depth is apparent with the simple catchy hooks, but they never push the limit or do anything else like the music did in Picture Show.

The only other track worth listening to is "Living In Another World," but it takes nine tracks to get to it.

And if Glenn was trying to get his message across through his lyrics with this album, listeners have already skipped the "important" songs to find the catchy ones - which are, in fact, the important ones.

Although the album seems to lack complex music, the band stays true to its pop roots. It still has that Neon Trees feel we fell in love with in 2012, but it falls short of what the band could actually do.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com



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